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| ||L to R: Dave Miller, Berl Hartman, Senator Benjamin Downing, Dianne Callan, Jay Baldwin, and Don Reed. |
Massachusetts’ signature energy bill of 2008, the Green Communities Act, is under review by the State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. Despite the fact that by almost every measure the bill is an unqualified success, it nevertheless has its detractors.
mandates that utilities purchase all cost effective energy that is cheaper than new supply; strengthens the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS); promotes net-metering and long-term contracts; and encourages cities and towns to become ‘Green Communities’ by providing funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
On November 3rd, several E2 New England members met with Senator Ben Downing
and Representative John Keenan
, the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy with the message that clean energy is thriving in the state and though there may be a few areas for improvement, their guiding principle should be "first do no harm".
A recent report by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) found that the state has 4,909 clean energy firms employing 64,310 clean energy workers that are distributed throughout the Commonwealth. Clean energy now represents 1.5% of the total employment in the state and is one of the few growth industries in the state. Employment in the sector grew by 6.7% in 2010, much more than the 1% growth in state industries as a whole.
Moreover, Massachusetts recently earned the prestigious number one ranking for energy efficiency from the ACEEE, surpassing California for the first time. The group credited the implementation of the Green Communities Act with catapulting the state to first place, by laying the foundation for greater investment in efficiency.
Another measure of the sector’s success is shown by venture capital investments, which totaled of $1.9 billion since 2008 and $2.5 billion since 2005.
Despite comments to the contrary by Massachusetts’ Attorney General Martha Coakley, all of this was accomplished while actually lowering rates for Massachusetts’ customers. Massachusetts’ rates were lower this year than last ($14.36 vs. $14.72) and Massachusetts’ residential rates are well below the average for New England and Mid-Atlantic states ($14.36 vs. $15.56 for New England; and $16.40 for Mid-Atlantic) (source: Table 5.6.A. Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, July 2011 and 2010.)
As with any piece of legislation, there is always room for improvement. E2 recommends increasing the percentage of long term contracts which is currently limited by the act to 3% to provide stable prices and an important hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices, while fostering deployment of local, clean renewable energy generation. We also recommend increasing the limit on net metering be increased from the current level of 3% of a distribution company’s historic peak load to a total of 6% of a distribution company’s historic peak load.
Separately, E2 is strongly supporting a bill that would simplify the permitting requirements for wind siting while maintaining local control and environmental review requirements.
E2 will be conveying these comments in writing and in person to the Massachusetts State legislature.
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